With Budget 2021 aiming to tackle Covid-19, how much more will be allocated to MoH compared to recent years?

Kenneth Tee
·3-min read
Healthcare workers prepare to carry out Covid-19 screening for those with a recent travel history to Sabah at Selcare Clinic in Shah Alam October 4, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara
Healthcare workers prepare to carry out Covid-19 screening for those with a recent travel history to Sabah at Selcare Clinic in Shah Alam October 4, 2020. — Picture by Hari Anggara

KUALA LUMPUR, Nov 4 ― Putrajaya has recently been urged to step up its allocation for the Ministry of Health (MoH) to 4 per cent of the country’s gross domestic product (GDP) amid Covid-19, with the current budget merely between 2 and 2.5 per cent.

With the Perikatan Nasional (PN) government set to table its maiden budget this Friday while facing the pandemic, a bigger allocation for MoH to further improve and maintain the public healthcare system is more crucial than ever.

Using Bank Negara Malaysia’s revised 2020 growth forecast outlook of -4.5 per cent and publicly available Department of Statistics Malaysia’s GDP performance data, we were able to obtain a rough estimate of the total GDP for 2020 (at constant 2015 prices).

A proposed 4 per cent allocation from the rough estimate of RM1.17 trillion (or RM1,173,804,000,000) GDP reached by the end of 2020, would come up to RM46.9 billion (or RM46,952,160,000).

So how will a proposed budget for MoH of 4 per cent of the GDP compare to the previous years?

Putrajaya’s budget allocation for the MoH has been on a general upward trend both in amount and in proportion to the entire government budget.

In Budget 2016, tabled by then prime minister Datuk Seri Najib Razak in 2015, MoH received a RM23.03 billion allocation, or 8.6 per cent out of the total budget of RM267.2 billion.

The following year, the ministry received RM25 billion, or 9.6 per cent of RM260.8 billion under Budget 2017.

Moving on to the following year, Najib in the same capacity then tabled Budget 2018 with an allocation totalling RM280.25 billion, with RM27 billion set aside for the MoH.

The allocation of RM27 billion was an increase of RM2 billion compared to what it received in the previous budget but maintained its share of 9.6 per cent of the overall budget sum.

Fast-forward to 2018, the new Pakatan Harapan government which defeated Najib’s Barisan Nasional administration allocated even more, by an additional RM1.7 billion.

Out of Budget 2019’s RM314.6 billion allocation, RM28.7 billion was allocated for MoH, although in total this has gone down to just 9.1 per cent out of the total budget.

The last budget tabled by PH for 2020 last year then allocated RM30.6 billion for MoH out of the total budget of RM297 billion.

As shown in previous years, the Health Ministry again received a significant boost in allocation, around RM3 billion more than the previous year, and also as a proportion of the total budget, now at 10.3 per cent.

All in all, the Health Ministry has always been consistently the top three recipients with the highest allocations in the government’s budget.

With Covid-19 still showing no signs of stopping, medical practitioners have implored the government to provide an even bigger allocation in the upcoming Budget.

This is aimed to alleviate the workload on medical frontliners and the public health service which has begun to strain, particularly in the state of Sabah.

Earlier this week, Finance Minister Datuk Seri Tengku Zafrul Abdul Aziz said Putrajaya intends to spend more money next year with Budget 2021 expected to have a bigger allocation than Budget 2020, in order to create more jobs and to “restart” Malaysia’s economy.

When asked if the government would cut back on spending for development projects under Budget 2021, Tengku Zafrul said the government instead intends to spend more on such development projects next year, while saving money on operation costs.

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